Wayne Rooney has admitted that Derby County’s Lee Buchanan is unlikely to feature in their Championship clash this afternoon.
In recent comments cited by Derbyshire Live, the 35-year-old revealed that the defender, who missed both Derby’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town and the Carabao Cup victory over Salford City due to a thigh injury, could be set to sit out once again against Peterborough United this weekend.
Rooney claimed that despite the left-back having rejoined training with the first team on Thursday, it is clear he is not back to 100% fitness, and feels that playing the 22-year-old would be something of a risk.
The Rams manager said: “Lee has trained with us [on Thursday] morning, he has improved a bit more but these are the decisions now where I have to evaluate my squad and see if it is worth taking a risk.
“If I had a full squad of senior players then I maybe can play him but at the minute I can’t afford to lose a player through injury, I have to make sure they are fully fit before they can come back into the team.”
Considering their struggles over the summer, Derby have nevertheless impressed in their opening two fixtures of the season, with Rooney’s side heading into Saturday’s clash as favourites against a Peterborough United team who were resolutely beaten by Luton Town 3-0 on the opening day of the new Championship campaign, as well as being trounced 4-0 at home in the Carabao Cup by League One side Plymouth Argyle earlier this week.
However, with the Salford game being a particularly hard-fought 3-3 draw – which the Rams eventually won on penalties – there is a real risk that Derby’s threadbare squad could start to show signs of fatigue at the Weston Homes Stadium this weekend, particularly at left-back, with Craig Forsyth having played the full 90 minutes in both of his team’s fixtures so far this season.
As such, that Buchanan does not seem to have recovered in time for the Peterborough clash is sure to come as a blow for Rooney, not only because his recovery would have allowed the manager to bring some fresh legs into his Derby defence but also because the 20-year-old is one of the most exciting talents in the Rams’ squad.
However, while Rooney may be gutted that the left-back has once again been ruled out, there is nothing more he can do but try his best to get a result with the players who are available for selection, and hope that Buchanan’s injury does not keep him out for much longer.